John Runnings City Councilors Begin Hearings Plans to Stay On Cambridge Jobs Program In Boston Jail

The Cambridge City Council's committee on economic development and employment began hearings this week on establishing a job creation and training program designed to target $1 billion of expected new development toward alleviating rising local unemployment.

The councilors concluded Thursday night, however, that a proposed plan submitted by City Manager Robert W. Healy failed to address crucial issues such as funding and enforcement. The plan was sent back for additional clarification.

Bad Statistics

Figures released by the Eastern Middlesex Human Resource Development Authority illustrate the need for a job-creating mechanism in Cambridge.

The city jobless rate is currently at 7.6 percent of the work force, which translates into at least 5,000 residents out of work. Youth unemployment stands at 14 percent, with figures for Black youths rising to 41 percent.


Unemployment nationwide is at its highest level since the Great Depression, and many other cities are worse off then Cambridge. But unlike many cities, Cambridge appears to have a chance to improve job prospects for its residents.

Development Scheduled

More than $1 billion in new development projects are scheduled to bring 7,000 new jobs to the city by 1984, and an additional 13,000 over the next 15 years, according to city estimates. Under the city's plan, approximately 25 percent of these jobs--the percentage of residents now working in Cambridge--would be reserved exclusively for residents, particularly "the unemployed and the underemployed."

City Councilor David Sullivan, chairman of the economic development and manpower committee, said this week that the city should influence the types of new jobs, train residents for such employment and insure that the goals for resident employment are met.

But the city manager's three-page blueprint, which would establish a cooperative job placement and training program run by the city and developers, lacks too many key provisions, Sullivan said.

The plan contains no enforcement provision, charges no city department with overseeing the program, and makes no recommendation for funding the operation.

The city now lacks an agency to oversee employment of manpower. The only job training program in the area is funded by the federal government, and it is only available to residents in the lowest income groups.

It remains uncertain whether the city can legally force businesses to comply with the plan, once it is adopted by the council.

But Sullivan said that voluntary agreements are not sufficient, and he has endorsed a legally binding version of the plan which would be incorporated into the city's zoning laws.

City officials told the committee that they would present a revised version of the employment plan to the panel in September.